Oregonians approved a stricter multifaceted gun safety law in the recent election. However, before the ballots were fully tallied, the proposed rule was met with claims that limiting magazine capacity to 10 rounds violates the Second Amendment.
The problem with establishing gun safety measures begins with the National Rifle Association and similar firearms rights organizations. These groups line politicians’ pockets to forward their agenda of keeping gun rights sacrosanct.
Moreover, their choice of words against pro-gun safety terminology creates a seemingly unbreachable chasm: When firearms rights advocates hear opponents use the term “gun safety,” they think it really denotes gun control, and “buyback” means confiscation.
Another example is seen in the language about magazine capacity in the “emergency motion” lawsuit filed by a gun rights group, sheriff, and gun store owner on November 18, 2022. The complaint contends that limiting magazines to 10 rounds to reduce criminal abuse of firearms would be equivalent to limiting high horsepower engines to reduce criminal abuse of vehicles.
The lawyers assert that a person unlawfully using a gun with more than 10 rounds in the magazine gives them “a potentially devastating advantage over his law-abiding victim.”
Making this claim is absurd since any gunfight will likely end in at least one death. Shooting 10 rounds from a semi-automatic weapon take seconds. FBI studies show that an inexperienced shooter can fire three shots in less than a second, and a trained marksman can double that number. That means an experienced gunman can fire off a 10-round magazine in less than four seconds.
The plaintiffs make another bizarre reason against banning larger-capacity magazines:
Many of the nation’s best-selling handguns and rifles come standard with magazines that can hold more than 10 rounds — and firearms equipped with such magazines are safely possessed by law-abiding citizens in the vast majority of states.
The reason for the popularity of these magazines is that in a confrontation with a violent attacker, having enough ammunition can be the difference between life and death.
And why would they believe any differently when organizations like the NRA push the idea that more guns keep people safe and large-capacity magazines could make a difference between self-protection and death?
Symbolic Potency of Firearms
The Second Amendment’s inclusion of the right to bear arms gives firearms a symbolic potency beyond their mechanical power.
Melinda Wenner Moyer wrote about the intense emotions she experienced after shooting a firearm for the first time:
“After I pulled the trigger and recovered from the recoil, I slowly refocused my eyes on the target…[and] the first bullet hole I’d ever made. I looked down at the shaking Glock 19 in my hands. A swift and strong emotional transformation swept over me. In seconds, I went from feeling nervous, even terrified, to exhilarated and unassailable—and right then, I understood why millions of Americans believe guns keep them safe.”
Moyer understood why Americans love their semi-automatic guns; the feeling of being safe, secure, and not vulnerable to outside forces. Based on this revelation, limiting magazine capacity interferes with gun owners’ sense of security.
The potent draw of owning firearms is demonstrated by the fact that less than half of the population owns an estimated 393.3 million guns in the United States. A 2018 Small Arms Survey indicates there are 120.5 firearms for every 100 residents. In addition, the survey revealed that civilian-owned firearms exceed the country’s inhabitants.
Anyone who needs a large-capacity magazine to defend their home should take shooting classes and spend more time at the range to improve their accuracy.
Magazine Capacity Matters
Even though high-capacity magazines might help someone feel safer, they embolden murderers. Pew Research In 2020, 79% of all murders in the United States involved firearms:
“That marked the highest percentage since at least 1968, the earliest year for which the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) has online records.”
Everyone understands that guns do not kill people, but bullets do. Mass murderers know the magazine capacity matters. They tend to think that 10 rounds are not enough since they are determined to kill as many people as possible.
An equally valid concern is the murder-by-gun rate is increasing in the United States, and some areas have seen significant increases in these crimes. Gun safety advocates are enraged over the seemingly endless news loop dominated by shooting deaths and mass murders. They believe that magazine capacity matters.
If that were not the case, then Oregon would be the only state pushing for firearm reforms that promote safety. The NRA-ILA website includes stories of other states’ reform processes:
- Delaware’s Congress passed “anti-gun bills” to “ban many standard capacity magazines.”
- The U.S. Supreme Court remanded two cases back to the lower courts in New Jersey and California over laws that ban magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition.
- In Texas, the 2023 legislature is set to vote on many gun safety measures, including HB-197, that would ban magazines holding more than 10 rounds.
10 Rounds Is More Than Enough
There are too many examples confirming that people come prepared when they want to kill as many people as possible. For instance, in January 2011, Jared Lee Loughner fully loaded his Glock 19 semi-automatic magazine with 30 rounds, intent on killing Democratic Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.
After firing the ammunition, Loughner paused to reload, giving bystanders time to tackle him to the ground. He left six dead and 18 wounded. Fewer deaths or injuries would have occurred if the shooter was limited to 10-round magazines.
The Gun Violence Archive recorded over 600 mass shootings in the United States so far in 2022, including the November 19 LGBTQ nightclub murders in Colorado Springs and the November 22 Walmart shooting in Chesapeake, Virginia.
Granted, limiting magazine capacity will not stop mass murderers. However, imagine your child or significant other in a room with someone determined to kill as many people as possible. If the shooter has only 10 rounds to fire, it reduces the possibility of nearly every person becoming a victim, like the children massacred in Uvalde, Texas.
Nothing will change until Americans wake up and realize that mass shooters choose semi-automatic weapons to kill as many people as possible in as short a time as possible.
Op-Ed by Cathy Milne-Ware
Bloomberg: Americans Have More Guns Than Anywhere Else in the World and They Keep Buying More; by Thomas Black
NRA-ILA: Oregon Gun Control Ballot Measure Passes, Barely; Iowans Overwhelmingly Approve RKBA Amendment
KOIN News: Group files emergency motion to stop Oregon Measure 114 gun control law
Scientific American: More Guns Do Not Stop More Crimes, Evidence Shows; by Melinda Wenner Moyer
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